Advertisers can do better than engage people for 2 seconds

by Nigel Hollis | October 16, 2017

Last week Kantar Millward Brown hosted a webinar titled 'Create Digital Ads that Drive Brand Growth'. Tip number one was to “Make people feel something” and tip number two is the closely related “Stand out at the start”. Yes, with digital video you have to engage those emotions quickly.

The premise that you need to engage people quickly is well founded. With skippable video formats people start skipping as soon as the option presents itself. In an analysis conducted last year we found that by the 15 second mark on average only just over a third of the initial audience remained, dropping to around a quarter by the end of the video. However, the variation was huge. Not just by creative but by age (16 to 19 year olds are far less likely to hang in there) and primary reason for visiting the video site.

It is findings like these that cause senior marketers like P&G’s Mark Pritchard to challenge the industry to deliver better results. In a keynote at dmexco Pritchard suggests that low engagement cannot just be solved with shorter ads, stating,

“What this did was raise a deeper question for us: If you look at it through the lens of the consumer, just how valuable are these ads? We can make a two-second ad work, and we do, but surely we can do better than that.”

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Yes, we can, but not without a deep knowledge of the target audience and recognition that the challenge is not just to reach people but to engage them. Digital ads need to earn attention just like any other medium but the bar is set far higher.

We know that some video content has the ability to retain audiences far better than the norm, on average retaining over half their audience by the 15 second mark, even among impatient Gen Z. How do they do that? By matching the content to the interests and values of the audience and making sure that it is apparent within the first few seconds that the ad offers something of interest. This requires more than just a creative idea. It requires the right creative idea. And it requires crafting the execution in order to ensure the final video creates the right sense of anticipation.

How do you do that? Use all the consumer insight data you have available to understand what interests the audience, what they feel they are missing, what they might respond to if they knew it existed. Use multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative insight. And then test the final content before distribution. Do that and the chances that your digital ads do not just hold an audience but generate sales will improve dramatically, otherwise, you might just as well place your brand next to a cat and shoot some video on your phone. Someone will probably look at it for a few seconds.

Ultimately I believe that digital success still comes down to offering the audience something they find remarkable, inspirational or useful but what do you think? Please share your thoughts.

2 comments

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  1. David, October 22, 2017
    I like the remedy; Backing up the numbers with qualitative insights can indeed make the ads to talk the consumers language and address their pains better. With Quora, Reddit ,social media and other forums this is easier. For groups whose access to the internet is limited, what are some of the cost effective sources of qualitative data?
  2. Neil Hopkins, October 19, 2017

    I completely agree with you - work must have meaning and value for the audience.  

    Digital is simply a channel, a fact which many people forget.  Physical print, OOH advertising, digital channels all have their individual quirks, but, at the end of the day, they all exist as message channels between individuals.  

    Without understanding the audience, you'll never be able to maximise the benefit of your communications work.

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